Sunday, 30 December 2012

Political Intervention might lead to a great Christmas Gift For Scottish Students

As per tradition, higher education in Scotland is supposed to be free for Scottish citizens but as politics interfered with the system, under the previous Labour-Lib Dem alliance at Holyrood, Scottish students paid money after graduating as “back-end tuition fees”. SNP leader, Alex Salmond questioned the need for the debate called by Labour leader Johann Lamont, on whether the students should pay tuition fees for higher education.
Image Courtesy : The Guardian, UK
He also pointed out that the website of the Scottish Labour still retained the commitment that no Scottish student should have to pay up-front or back-end tuition fees for higher education. He compared Labour to the Liberal Democrats. The party broke the promise to oppose raise in tuition fees ‘south of the border, which made leader Nick Clegg apologise.
Salmond also asked politicians to take a look at the happenings in England where students have to pay a minimum of £9000, per annum for tuition fees. He has asked them to "maintain the commitment that they made in this chamber by huge majority to not have up-front or back-end tuition fees in Scotland".
"They bear a remarkable resemblance to the pledge Nick Clegg signed before his party nose-dived." - The First Minister
Ms. Lamont was challenged by Salmond to,
"actually return to the roots not just of the Labour Party and the SNP, but the Scottish tradition of free education, so we can say with confidence to the students of Scotland, not just next year but for all time, that free education will be part of the Scottish tradition - not just for Christmas but for all time."
This political repartee led to Lamont telling Salmond,
"The price that the First Minister denies of his education choices is cuts in college places and our schools with a growing gap between the rich and the poor. He knows that and perhaps in the New Year he might want to confront the reality of it."
The political battle between the parties members reached a point to where Lamont accused Salmond of spending £500,000 to “watch a game of golf” in America where Salmond was “promoting” Scotland. So, basically now as the two parties are trying to outdo the other, the only beneficial outcome can be free education for Scottish students. After things are sorted out the ‘Christmas gift’ might just turn out to be a permanent solution to education funding issues for Scottish citizens.

Play and Learn with Modern Tech Toys

Parents across the globe are known to lay a special emphasis when it comes to the intellectual growth and skill building of their children. These wishes are fulfilled by the best level of academic practices in schools across the world. However there are steps which need to be taken by the guardians as well to ensure the growth process is not disrupted. Hence during their leisure time, ideas are to be implemented so as to help them learn while they play, without making it seem so.

Image Courtesy : Examiner.com
The holiday season is the one in which the children tend to stay away from their textbooks and be more engrossed in playing. The idea of making them study turns out to be a failure during this period. Hence the only way to see to it that the learning process continues is by introducing them to toys that are fun as well as educational.

The modern age has provided the parents with multiple options of potentially educational toys and games which children are finding a striking interest in. Gone are the days when an abacus was used to teach numbers to young kids in a playful way. The children today are more advanced when it comes to their choosing their playthings, therefore making it all the more necessary for the guardians to make their picks wisely.

Modern Board Games
Image Courtesy : FabWeb.com
The market has a lot to offer in the segment for toys that help in learning for different ages which are available in various price ranges as well. The younger kids would obviously love items which have a flashy outlook and can be actively played with. There happen to be items such as electronic learning robots and digitized board games which would certainly appeal to them and serve the educational purpose as well. The older kids however are much more tech savvy and can be approached in a different manner, the most popular method being through digital applications and software which can be used on computers or tablets. The apps are based on quizzes and ideas revolving around mechanics, science, history etc and are considerably useful in sparking their interest in the mentioned fields.

Due to busy schedule and extra work pressure it is not always possible for the parents to spend long hours helping or playing with their children. In such cases, toys that help in learning for different ages come in handy. It is true that the quality of time spent with the children matters rather than the quantity, so making complete use of the educational toys during such session can help a great deal in sparking their interest towards them.

Friday, 28 December 2012

Educational Reforms set to change the course of Education in Mississippi

Image Courtesy : mde.k12.ms.us
The Mississippi government has passed different reforms in the education sector over the years many of which have met with varying degrees of legislative success. Out of the so many educational reforms passed Mississippi Adequate Education Program passed in 1997 has been the most effective.

The MAEP passed over the veto of then-Gov. Kirk Fordice, guaranteed state funding so as to ensure that all children received proper education irrespective of whether they lived in poor or prosperous school district.

In the 1990’s, efforts were made by the legislature to give health care coverage to teachers. Infact in 2000, $392 million was spent on teacher pay rise that made Mississippi at least compete with other neighboring states.
These initiatives “was a continuing constructive process of sustaining the momentum that came out of the 1982 Education Reform Act,” said former Gov. William Winter, architect of the 1982 legislation. “I think they are all essential blocks in our never-ending quest to bring education in Mississippi up to an acceptable level. And it is a never-ending quest.”

Former Gov. Ronnie Musgrove, a chief MAEP architect while lieutenant governor, said focus put on education by such things as teacher pay raises, MAEP and others “encouraged teachers, administrators and students because it told them that the state believed education was important. It is important to let them know we are behind them.”
Facing Obstacles:

However each of these educational reforms met with obstacles before they could make any impact.

  • After MAEP was passed by both the houses of the Legislature, the then Gov. Kirk Fordice vetoed it. However they took a corrective measure and called upon the Legislature to override and nullify his veto.

  • Like MAEP, the Education Enhancement Act – the 1-cent sales tax – was also passed five years back.

The bill passed because the people were for it,” Wicker said recently. “Paying for buildings, buses, and books – together with property tax relief – amounted to a powerful argument in favor of the one-cent increase.”

Teacher Pay:

In the year 2000, it looked like that the Musgrove campaign on teacher’s pay rise was going to fall apart but both McCoy, a key member of the House Leadership supported the issue and following his support the Senate leaders introduced their own bill supporting the raising of teacher’s salary.

Falling Short

Though some of the educational reforms could be applied, there were many which could not be passed and implemented due to various reasons. Some of them are mentioned below:

  • Ray Mabus was unsuccessful in his Better Education for Success Tomorrow (BEST) proposal which wanted to establish early child education, pay rise of teachers and even merit pay raises for all the high performing schools.

  • Fordice tried to introduce PRIME that will give the residents the opportunity of placing their proposals on ballot but he failed to garner enough legislative support and the reform fell through.

Since those days, education in Mississippi has made a lot of progress. In 2012, terms like “Star,” “High-performing,” and “Low-Performing” were removed and its place the grading system has come into effect like the A-F grading system. At present efforts are made to introduce charter schools and scholarships for students so that they can go to private school. Its best to keep the fingers crossed and wish that the required reforms come about so that the education system can progress and shine.

Thursday, 27 December 2012

Reality of Higher Education in Botswana

One of the most sparsely populated countries in the world, Botswana has a history of poor economic condition. Though it picked up the pace in the middle but in the current scenario, the country’s economy is again on the decline affecting another major sector namely the Education Field.

For the past few years, Botswana has repeatedly failed in establishing a tertiary education system due to lack of finances and human resource. But the recent tensions have imposed constraints and have affected the overall development of higher education.
Image Courtesy : tec.org.bw
Efforts have been made by the Tertiary Education Council or TEC for the promotion of higher education in the country since 2003 but so far no proper measures have been taken. The various economic, political and administrative issues have affected the growth of a proper education system in the country. 

The overall goal is to increase the tertiary education gross enrolment ratio from 11.4% in 2007-08 to at least 17% by 2016 – the 50th anniversary of independence – and to 25% by 2026.

Problems that are holding higher education back in Botswana:
  • Botswana is going through an economic recession as the country mainly depends on the sale of Diamonds which have deteriorated in the recent times.

  • Many of the students who are studying in South Africa has been asked to return as they cannot pay the stipend anymore, only the high achievers education costs are born by the state.

  • State Surveillance has led to the growth of a feeling that many fellow colleagues or students may be a part of the state’s intelligence service.

  • Moreover lack of financial help and human resources have delayed educational projects like the University of Botswana’s academic hospital dream. Even the star project BIUST is lagging behind and there are rumours of corruption surrounding it.
Contributions of the private sector:
  • Contributions from the private sector had a modest beginning some 15 years ago with contributions by NIIT in India which is now called Botho College with campuses in Gaborone, Maun and Francistown.

  • Both BA ISAGO University College and the Gaborone Institute of Professional Studies have spanned over 7 campuses having grown from a small institution.
  • Malaysia-based Limkokwing University of Creative Technology is the 4th institute whereas ABM University College has become the 5th one with now more than 12 private educational institutes.
Vision versus reality:
  • The peak in tertiary enrolments for private and public institutions combined was in 2008-09, when there were 47,889 students altogether. Of these 54.6% (26,130) were in public institutions, including 15,036 at the University of Botswana (58% of the public enrolment), with others in colleges of education, health science, agriculture and others, and the Botswana College of Distance and Open Learning. Since 2009, public institutions have experienced a small decline in enrolment of a few thousand students, while private institutions declined by 38% to 13,345 students in 2010-11. Last year, of 36,859 students, 35% were in private and 65% in public institutions.
  • The plan is to attract more private institutions to improve the tertiary education in the country. Several institutions, such as Monash University and Mancosa from South Africa have already started their operations and are offering 3 undergraduate courses and an MBA.

  • The ministry has thought of a ‘Back to School’ initiative so as to provide higher education for school teachers.

  • Moreover steps should be taken to recollect the loans as more than 120,000 students had their education sponsored by the state. Collection of the loan will improve the country financial condition to a certain level.

2012's New Innovations in Education Sector

2012 is a crucial year in the field of education as it will witness 5 big trends that are going to shape the future of education for the next decade. In the current scenario we cannot undermine the role education plays in shaping the growth of a country.

By now you must be wondering and anticipating what those five trends are going to be? The 5 big trends are explained below for your better understanding.
  • State policy matters more. With federal devolution like ESEA waivers and state aggregation of control of the six levers, the education sector is bound to get affected. Just like NCLB, the Common Core State Standards will define the state of education for the coming decade.
In most states, the online administration of new state tests in May of 2015 will be the most important event of the decade; preparation for and responding to the results will be among the most important leadership tasks.
  • Viral adoption of affordable web and mobile applications are changing the course of education. Unlike the previous generation, the current generation is not waiting for things to happen. They are using software applications available on the net and on the mobile phone to pursue higher education. This generation has witnessed the use of iPad, Ruby and softwares where the candidates are going through their study materials on the go i.e. while travelling, waiting for someone and so on.
  • More Online learning: The explosion of MOOCs onto the education scene in 2012 along with the access to OER (e.g. Khan Academy, CK12, Gooru, PowerMyLearning) to has started a new mega trend whereby online learning is becoming easy, affordable and efficient.
  • Blended learning: Although one can access online classes from anywhere anytime but most universities are planning to adopt the “Blended Learning” procedure whereby the candidates will be able to easy the benefits of both traditional classroom experience as well as the online experience. In the near future the courses are going to be a mix of both the learning procedure so that the benefits of learning increases and the candidates don’t miss out on anything.
  • Data: The availability of data driven platforms like knowledge maps, achievement recognition systems (dashboards/badges to name a few) and profile driven playlists are going to make the procedure of “Teach to One” Recommendations more feasible and active.

Friday, 21 December 2012

China adapting Online Learning on a large scale Facilities to Educate its Citizens

China prides in its education system. The Chinese government promotes State Run Public Education for all its citizens. It is compulsory for all citizens to attend school for a minimum of 9 years. According to the Ministry of Education, primary school has a 99% attendance rate whereas primary and middle schools boast of 80% attendance.

In 1985, the government of China went ahead and did away with tax – funded higher education o that the candidates applying in Universities compete for scholarships depending on their academic performance. Private Education was introduced for the first time in China in the early 1980’s.

Chinese spending has grown by 20% per year since 1999, now reaching over $100bn, and as many as 1.5 million science and engineering students graduated from Chinese universities in 2006. China published 184,080 papers as of 2008.
{Source: Su, Xiaohuan (28 March 2011), China 'to overtake US on science' in two years, BBC World News}

Image Courtesy : Reuters
History of Online Education in China:

With the contribution from big investors in the field of Online Education, the education industry is booming right now. The candidates staying in far off places and under developed areas are the ones who have benefitted the most from Online Education. Even all the working people who could not pursue their higher education, online learning proved to be a boon for them.

The Ministry of Education has approved 68 ordinary schools of higher learning and the Central Radio and TV University to pilot modern distance education. By the end of 2003, these schools had established 2,027 off-campus learning centers around China, offering 140 majors in ten disciplines, and had a total enrollment of 1.373 million.

The gradual spread of broadband technology has also helped online education. The China Education and Research Network (CERNET), started in 1994, is now China's second largest Internet network, covering all major cities of China. The high-speed connection between it and the China Education Broadband Satellite Net, opened in 2000, established a "space to earth" transmission platform for modern distance education, and provided an all-round network supporting environment for distance education.
{Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Education_in_the_People%27s_Republic_of_China#Adult_and_online_education}

2011 has marked the rise of Online education and training in China which reached CNY60 billion. And if we are to go by the trend then it will reach CNY72.3 billion in 2012.

By the end of 2011, the number of China education enterprises listed in America is 11 (including Global Education & Technology Co., Ltd. which acquired by Pearson Education Group and is about to cease trading). China Cast Education Corporation logins OTCBB via SPAC then turns to NasdaqGS; CEU belongs to backdoor listing; the rest nine education enterprises belong to IPO and the total financing is $ 915 million, the total market capitalization is approximate $ 5.3 billion. China Edu Corporation, China Cast Education Corporation, CEU, China Distance Education Holding Ltd., GEDU, New Oriental, Xueersi, Ambow and ATA have opened online education and training business except for Xueda and Noah. The former nine enterprises' businesses also cover parenting education, entrance examination coaching, language training, network higher education, vocational certification training, corporate E-learning and online education services.
{Source: http://www.sacbee.com/2012/12/03/5026792/research-on-online-education-and.html}

According to statistics, in China, over 90% of primary and secondary school students and their parents have an urgent demand for education service with low-cost, high-quality and sustainable development. More than 75% of the workers are under various degrees of continued training; more than 50% of enterprises managers take initiatively participate in professional learning and training; 45 % of young people are learning foreign language. The total number of people who need high-quality education and training resources across the country reached 380 million. If 30% of them have the online education training conditions, the annual per capita consumption of online education and training is CNY600, the total market space is CNY70 billion.
{Source: http://www.sacbee.com/2012/12/03/5026792/research-on-online-education-and.html}

The current prevailing scenario in China is ideal for online education. It is an era where education plays a pivotal role in shaping and changing the future of a country. And China regards Online Education as an important means to promote the overall development of the country.

Wednesday, 19 December 2012

What are these Online Learning Platforms?

Online education has its share of naysayers and all those people who are an ardent supporter of how good online education is considering all the benefits it offers. Naysayers opine that there is a high chance that the university is fake and the degrees offered by them are not worth it and the candidate will end up wasting money. In this age of internet, it is very easy to create a fake website with appealing pictures and information to attract the candidates to get enrolled and invest money. Infact there have been reports, where it was found after investigation that the so called university never existed in the first place and it was a cyber scam to which many people became victims.

But then that is so with everything that is done online. It may happen that we log into a site, purchase something and pay the money online but the product is never delivered. Inspite of repeated calls and follow ups we still lose our money.

Same way we cannot completely accept and believe what the naysayers are saying. What we need to do, is do a thorough research on the university, call upon the number provided and talk to university officials and in case we come across anyone who has passed out from that university we can have a talk with them and clarify our doubts. We have to gather information on two vital points i.e. whether the university is properly accredited and whether the degree offered by them are globally known and acknowledged.
Image courtesy : indalytics

The main aim of online learning is to train the candidates and develop their skills and expertise from entry level jobs to high end jobs so that the candidates can apply their skills wherever they join. In online learning the classes are imparted through audio video clips which in turn make the candidates tech savvy. Different universities use different softwares. Some use softwares like iNoodle, some use Blackboard Learner and many more.

Currently Wellesley College has become the first arts college to join edX, the online learning software developed by Harvard and MIT. Wellesley has joined edX with the intention of using all means available in order to make undergraduate courses interesting and fun.

Wellesley College wants to provide its students the benefits of both traditional courses and online courses at the same time and hence they opted for this edX model because it provides both the experience. Using such a powerful platform Wellesley wants to provide the candidates with the experience of blended learning so that they don’t miss out on the best of education that can be achieved.

Friday, 14 December 2012

Memorising the study materials and passing is harming Education on a whole

Education plays a significant role in a person’s life. Education has a great social relevance in the current modern revolutionized society. Education has no replacement. There is hardly any alternative to education. But then inspite of the important role that education plays in our lives, the techniques used for imparting education has been did not upgrade that much nor any efforts have been taken to replace rote learning.

If you are wondering what Rote Learning is, then let me help you out. Rote learning is the process where you repeat the words, phone numbers or written paragraphs as long as you don’t know it by heart. It is the technique of mugging up.
Courtsey : Adam Blatner
If researches are to be believed, performance of students are on the decline. Nearly 75% of second year engineering students in colleges in and around Chennai failed in at least one subject in the third semester. Months after acing their Class 12 exams, nearly 40% of first year medical students in 27 colleges across the state failed, a review in 2011 revealed. Among dental students too the pass rate of final year students in the state was around 40%.

Another survey claims that 80% of the school principals believe that rote learning is to be blamed. Infact they state that rote learning has spoiled the creative thinking of the students. They are so much accustomed to rote learning that they are incapable of independent thinking and producing notes of their own.

Experts are of the opinion that educational systems in school still follow the “factory model” i.e. that was created to suit the requirements of the Industrial Revolution.

Researchers across the globe have reached the consensus that the key to addressing these challenges is to bring a transformation in student thinking, classroom dynamics, learning ambience, and technology integration and teacher empowerment.

One of the leading education service provider in India, EzVidya conducted an interview amongst 2,512 schools across India to find out whether the schools are properly equipped to meet the needs and requirements of the 21st century classroom. 78% of the principals opined that class participation on part of the students increases their performance. At the same time they also pointed out that “less attention span” was the most common challenge that they face while taking the class. Infact 82% of the teachers were of the same opinion. However when students plays video games their concentration is quite high but when in class it wanders and the students remain attentive hardly for 15 minutes. 85% of teachers opined that 90% of the class comprised of either average or students with slow learning speed.

"Teachers need to understand that children today need a variety of techniques to hold their attention. This is because when they are engrossed in a video game or on the internet they are participating and getting instant feedback. In class, however, there is no constant stimulation to evoke responses," said EzVidya CEO Chitra Ravi."

However the principals feel that the new educational technologies don’t go with the existing curriculum and that they were not easy to use. 85% of the schools surveyed stated that the teachers don’t use classroom walls to conduct their classes.

Thursday, 13 December 2012

Medical Science to take Advantage of E-learning

Healthcare is a very important issue all over the world and everyone everywhere needs to be aware of it. In underdeveloped or lesser developed countries and cities people need to study about health care and medicine so that they can make sure that treatment of diseases is proper and detected at the right time.

As health issues are becoming serious we must learn how to tackle diseases. Awareness about different sorts of diseases is very important in order to control them. For doctors and nurses working in rural areas a constant upgradation on the subject is required. Therefore the Liaquat University of Medical & Health Sciences in Jamshoro has made a decision to start an online programme called “e-Family Health Care Certificate Course” for the doctors and medical staff of hospitals in Sindh.

Courtesy: kcumb.edu
Why e-Learning?

Some less fortunate and underdeveloped districts and towns in some countries do not have good colleges to provide proper medical education. The faculty of medicine is weak or too expensive for doctors who want to upgrade themselves. Distance learning is fabricated to use electronic communication to spread knowledge across the world especially to those who cannot afford to go to formal colleges to receive proper education.

Education in distance learning programmes is not restricted to any one place. You can live anywhere in the world and study at prestigious universities across the globe. Distance education is cheaper than formal college and therefore more affordable. Now people living in rural areas can have access to universities without crossing borders.

As medical science is a very important subject, it is now important for doctors to keep up with the newest inventions and methods of treatment. Distance learning has flexible timings and therefore suit doctors the best as they can schedule their classes whenever they are free.

Mashhoor Alam Shah, the Vice Chancellor Professor, said in a meeting that this programme is aimed to improve the health care system in various parts, especially rural areas of Sindh. These programmes are meant to train and teach doctors to better the quality of health care in underdeveloped parts of the country. Distance learning medical courses are cost efficient and designed keeping in mind the busy schedules of doctors.

The Vice Chancellor Professor also added that the system of online education is better than formal college as the format of teaching is appropriate for teachers and students alike, the student-teacher interaction level is high and teachers also get to communicate with students better and on provide them with solutions on time. 

Wednesday, 12 December 2012

UN appoints Malala's father as an Education adviser

Ziauddin Yusufzai

Gordon Brown, the UN Special Envoy for global Education broadcasted the appointment of Ziauddin Yusufzai as the UN education advisor. His task is to see that every female child gets the right to education by the end of 2015. He is the father of Malala Yousafzai, the 15 year old brave girl who raised her voice to make education for girls compulsory in the area that is under the control of the talibans.

It has been estimated that more than 32 million girls are deprived from going to school. Yusufzai has taken up the challenge to abolish this injustice done to girls and has promised to give a new face to the education discipline in the country.

Gordon Brown had requested all adherent of girl’s education to stand up for the auspicious event of appointment of Yusufzai. They had met in Paris for the big event with UNESCO Director General Irina Bokova and President Zardari of Pakistan.

Brown also claimed that the courageous decision of the girl has encouraged everyone to spread education for every single girl child all over the world. He also made it sure that whichever country is lagging behind in this kind of commitment, he would take a step to solve the problem.

The Talibans had destroyed 600 schools as they felt girls did not have the right to education. When Malala protested against this she was brutally shot by a gunman when she was traveling by bus to school.

She did not fear at all when the gun man had inquired for her but bravely proclaimed who she was and was shot for no big crime but for a human right that she deserved. Taliban’s plan was to conquer her voice so that she could not stand up for her right in the future anymore.

The Taliban’s shot her but failed to completely kill her and this has now given courage to every girl child in Pakistan to stand up for their educational right. They are now confident that the government will take a step to improve the educational scenario in this country.

Now, Ziauddin Yousafzai has become a special educational activist and he makes it sure that every girl child has access to proper education worldwide. Malala have decided to join the campaign once she recovers. It has been also declared that on Malala’s birthday i.e. next July 12th she will ask children walk out on to the streets to protest against the heartless Taliban people who had destroyed the school decorum.

Saturday, 8 December 2012

Teachers to Clear an Exam to become Eligible to Teach!

Why should only student’s clear exam to be promoted to the next class and why not teachers take an exam to be regarded as qualified to hold the post of a teacher in a school or college? Well with time transformation is taking place that is changing the academic scenario gradually.

Recently the President of the American Federation of Teachers, Randi Weingarten came up with one of the best Education Reform Policy that has made it mandatory for teachers to crack the exam that judge whether they are fit to hold the designation of a facilitator.

This proposal was long due and finally a step has been taken to give a fresh outlook to the global academic setting. We have often seen teachers who are not familiar with a particular subject have been assigned that subject to teach the children in the school. It is one of the worst ways of imparting knowledge to the learners as they fail to give the right kind of information to the pupils.

It was found that 34% of maths teachers, 25% of English teachers and 25% of science teachers were not fit to teach those particular subjects as they did not hold any proper qualification. More worse was that there were quite a number of under qualified teachers who were teaching in schools that were concentrated under the marginal student bodies.

The 2008 report “Core Problems” claimed that there were many out-of-field instructors who were in charge of the prime academic programs. The students who were subjected to this kind of injustice and partiality were generally from the low income families and those pupils who were of colour. It is very clear that people who belonged to the minority group were discriminated.

It is also true that teachers who have earned innumerable degrees have got to do nothing with their teaching skill in school. To an extent the way a teacher teaches the pupils also depends on their individual inherited teaching skill. But the ‘new found’ reformation is a big achievement for the educational field.

An Education Model to Look up to

Upon the subject of education, not presuming to dictate any plan or system respecting it, I can only say that I view it as the most important subject which we as a people can be engaged in”
- Abraham Lincoln.

March 9, 1832 First Political Announcement

American Public Education system has stood witness to the modernization of Education through various educational reforms whereby America took efforts so that all children deserve equal opportunities in the school house.

Reforms arising from the civil rights era:

From the 1950s to the 1970s, many of the proposed and implemented reforms in U.S. education stemmed from the CivilRights Movement and related trends; examples include ending racial segregation, and busing for the purpose of desegregation, affirmative action, and banning of school prayer.

Reform efforts in the 1980s:

President Regan’s efforts for the promotion of education are reflected in the book “Nation at Risk”. In the latter half of the decade, E. D. Hirsch advocated “cultural literacy” and launched attacks on the versions of progressive education.

Reform efforts in the 1990s and 2000s:

By the time 90’s came most the districts and states had adopted the Outcome-BasedEducation (OBE) which was later followed up by the NoChild Left Behind Act of 2001, which is still in a mandate stage.

Contemporary issues:

In the first decade of the 21st century, several issues are salient in debates over further education reform:
  • Longer school day or school year
  • After-school tutoring
  • Charter schools, school choice, or school vouchers
  • Smaller class sizes
  • Improved teacher quality
    • Improved training
    • Higher credential standards
    • Generally higher pay to attract more qualified applicants
    • Performance bonuses ("merit pay")
    • Firing low-performing teachers
  • Internet and computer access in schools
  • Track and reduce drop-out rate
  • Track and reduce absenteeism
  • English-only vs. bilingual education
  • Mainstreaming special education students
  • Content of curriculum standards and textbooks
  • Funding, neglected infrastructure, and adequacy of educational supplies.

Florida’s Achievements in Implementing Education Reforms:

However, inspite of all the contemporary issues, Florida has managed to become one of the few states that have responded well to the concept of truly educating the child through a comprehensive system of school reforms. Through school accountability measures those schools performed badly and fell in the rank of D’s and F’s have now moved up the ladder and are performing well with B’s and A’s.

Florida also created new opportunities by providing the low income family members to transfer their children to private schools through scholarships, charter schools and all. Moreover Florida promoted early literacy. Children who did not perform well and remained illiterate till the 3rd standard were not promoted. On the contrary they were provided with intensive reading instruction so as to improve their reading and writing skills.

Not only in schools, Florida is also taking initiatives at the college level by introducing Advanced Placement classes and is encouraging the students to appear for the college entrance exams. Infact the SAT scores of the African American and Hispanic Community improved a lot in comparison to the other countries.

Although a huge gap still persists before it can be claimed that achievement is nearby but still at least we know which direction needs to be followed. Florida’s contribution in the education system is looked up as a national model of “what works”. It has opened up a middle avenue for both the centre-left and centre-right parties.

This powerful bipartisan convergence was on display at the NationalSummit on Education Reform this week in Washington DC, where former New York City School Chancellor Joel Klein and former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice joined in agreement on the education reform measures needed to ensure national security. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan and former Florida Governor Jeb Bush also joined in supporting strong school and teacher accountability as well as measurable student outcome-based approaches to education reform.

President Obama declared that "it is time for us to work together, just like Jeb and I are doing — coming from different parties, but we came together not as Democrats and Republicans but as Americans."

Wednesday, 5 December 2012

Right Time To Bring About Changes In Higher Education

The importance of higher education is gaining prominence all over the world these days as people are starting to understand the value of a good education. With the job market becoming more and more challenging by the day, students are now queuing up to get college degrees that will help them accelerate their careers.

Joseph E. Aoun, president of Northeastern University said that America’s “higher-education” system has hit a high in recent times as citizens now want to take education’s aid to get better jobs and fulfill incomplete dreams. They also want to compete at a global level and a high school graduate or a bachelor’s degree holder cannot do that, they need to be more prepared.

He also said that, people these days want flexible or online education options and opportunities to learn experientially. They also want to expose themselves to global experiences and certain changes need to be made in the higher education system to accommodate the requirements of students. Aoun also noticed how people were concerned about rising costs, competition on a global basis and finding jobs after graduation.

Students these days say that they have fewer job opportunities than their parents’ had.

"I think the single most important thing that higher education has to do is do what it does best, and that is 'think.' Thinking is the essence of what universities have been doing for a thousand years, and as we think, we should be unafraid to disrupt the received wisdom. That's also been a great strength in the advancement of knowledge."
  • John Sexton, President of New York University

Sexton also added that higher education must find ways of being innovative and creative. Also, the role technology plays in higher education was brought into the forefront.

"One of the things that has emerged from the use of technology in education is that the questions of what exactly are people learning and how do we assess it has to come to the front and center of how these new courses are constructed. For courses with thousands of people in them, it's not possible to just use the traditional, somewhat ad hoc assessment mechanisms that we've employed in higher education."
  • Daphne Koller, co-founder of Coursera
Higher education has to be modified to meet the needs and changes of the present generation, where time is short and necessities are high. And if certain modifications are not made the higher education won’t be able to help us progress in life.

Monday, 3 December 2012

Are High School students College Ready?

The new statistics of the Department of Education claimed that only 29% of high school students are eligible for college studies. Last year only 28% students were qualified, this implies that there has been no improvement at all.

The grades achieved by the students exposes the real scenario of the city schools, educational experts declares that only a group of children in the school are guided well to produce good results whereas the rest of them are overlooked. This tremendously affects their final year high school result.

In fact it has been estimated that in more than 500 high schools less than the average number of students were prepared for graduation level studies. And it is indeed surprising that in total of 25 schools only 70% students were fit to study in the college.

To come out of this problem schools must make sure that the students are well prepared to take the SAT exam and perform well in it. Strict regulation must be introduced to take test of the students to see whether they really deserve to fit into a good institution.

Now, it has become necessary for the school administration to look into the performance of the students in their institutions so that all of them pass with flying colors and make their way in good colleges. There is tough competition among all students these days so there is a dire need for quality education at school level.

It was also predicted that almost one third of the students in school are still not proficient in English. This is one major problem that hampers a student’s studies as most of the subjects are taught in this language. So school as well as family of the kids must take care and see that they are able to learn the important language.

The education department should take the initiative to figure out the problem that the average students are facing and there will be gradual upgrading in the education system. In fact in the year 2012 there has been quite an improvement. Thus students have become aware of the fact that only good grades in school will get them enrolled in good colleges.

Sunday, 2 December 2012

The Difference A Person Can Make To Empower Girls In Less Developed Countries

There are very few people in this world who go out of their way to help people in need. We are yet to realize  that the “power of one” is not just a mere saying because one person can actually make a huge difference. There are so many people in this world, children, women and the elderly who need help. All they ask for is a helping hand and all we need to do is reach out.

Philanthropists all over the world work towards the betterment of societies in need. They work for the greater good. There are charities which help the needy worldwide, many celebrities help with raising money for various causes but seldom do we find regular people, the ordinary man, involving themselves in selfless acts like helping out the poor, not just monetarily but also by providing them with a good education and helping them out of exploitation.

The lack of education for the girl child is something that should receive a great deal of attention. Katie Meyler, age 30, a woman from Bernardsville is a living example of how a ‘common person’, with the help of a few genuinely interested people, can make a huge difference.

The Power of One

Meyler, who had a disturbed past and troubled childhood, now runs her own non-profit organisation, “The More than Me Foundation” with the commitment to educate and empower young girls in Liberia who are at risk of being sexually exploited. Meyler’s work has been appreciated by many. She has been called:
The most passionate person we’ve ever met”- Bono’s ONE Foundation.
Social Media Role-Model”- at a UN sponsored Mashable event.
Outstanding Woman of the Year”- N.J. Commission on the Status of Women.

When she was in the senior year of high school, Meyler got the chance of going to Haiti. She learned how to raise money, so that she could sponsor her trip. On Haiti, Meyler said:
In Haiti, I was meeting people who didn't have clean drinking water, and who were sleeping in their cars to stay warm. I found out I wasn't really poor, and I became obsessed with people in poor countries.”

Her hard work paid off as she won a service scholarship award from the former US president, Bill Clinton. This helped her attend college. In 2006, when she was working for a relief agency, she decided to visit Liberia, West Africa, to help out the people there. About her choice of country, Meyler said:
No one chooses Liberia, Liberia chooses you. I got there after a brutal revolution, with one in three women getting raped.”

In Liberia

When she was in the distressed country she found a lot about their state, especially the state of young girls. She said that the girls their wanted only one thing:
They would answer by saying ‘I just want to go to school, I want an education, that’s what I want more than anything.’”

She put her heart and soul into working for the benefit of young girls in Liberia. She started by getting them into school first. Currently, her objective is to build a lot of school so that she can help empower girls with education. Now, Meyler has the opportunity to win a million dollars with which she will help develop the state of girls in Liberia. She is now trying to win the American Giving Awards competition and is seeking everyone’s help to reach her aim.